Cages are a pain to store. If I was growing 12 plants, I’d use cages because they are so simple and nearly foolproof.
Stakes are a pita, you have to keep tying the plant to the stake and pruning out suckers.
Cattle panels work pretty well for up to 50 plants. After that, they are a pain to set up and take down each year.
I’m growing about 800 tomato and pepper plants this year. The string trellis works reasonably well for large numbers of plants. If I were doing more than 1000/year, I would probably work out something similar to Florida weave. The problem with Florida weave is that it is only effective for determinate varieties. Most of what I grow is indeterminate.
I grow about two dozen at most, a dozen at least every year. all indeterminate and different kinds. always San marzano and Cherokee purple and a yellow pear, then a variety. last few years always a matt wild cherry too.
I use this
because I have it. I would use any non plastic string I had. I go across the top between either bamboo sticks or tomato stakes, then across the middle, then close to the bottom. run a string from the top over each plant to keep track and start twisting them around it, up and up.
looks ugly until they grow, but it works for me. if I had more plants to run I’d probably use t posts and a cattle panel
that bare place is where the radishes bolted. I gotta put something low to the ground there to eat.
I’ve had similar experiences, but grow much fewer numbers.
I can’t even begin to imagine how you keep up with 800 plants! Plus everything else you grow, which is considerable.
90% of the tomatoes I grow are indeterminate. I usually grow between 30-40 tomatoes and around 20 pepper plants. This year I cut down on the numbers because I will be too busy to harvest and preserve more than that. I’m only growing 25 tomatoes and 10 pepper plants. I had about 40 extra plants I had started that I decided not to plant, which was really hard to do!
- I don’t have a place to store cages. Plus with our wind, they have to be staked down or they blow over and take the tomato plant with them.
- Staking just didn’t work for me with indeterminate, I didn’t keep up with taking out the suckers, they flopped all over and made a big mess.
- I usually trellis on cattle panels but I am tired of setting them up, taking them down, and trying to weed under the bottom wire.
We’ll see how this new method works for me this year. At least I am trying something different instead of being irritated with the cattle panels all summer.
@resonanteye Sounds like you have a good system that works well for you. I don’t know if there is any one way I will be happy with… but I change my methods after a few years thinking there must be a better way.
I think I’d actually prefer cages, if I had a decent way to store them (and a place). But I’d still have to anchor them down, which is kind of a pain if you are doing 20 - 40, imo.
I plant the tomatoes next to a fairly short stake. I have long bamboo poles about 6 feet off the ground. I connect the short stake to the high horizontal poles using balng twine. As the plants grow, I wrap the twine around the tomato. I remove all the suckers and lower leaves. I’ve found this to be as productive as growing in cages and a lot easier. I can plant them closer together too. They always end up taller than six feet and I just run them along the top pole.
This is not my photo but gives you an idea how it works.
I use a similar product. My needs are small (all determinate) and it works well. Dollar Tree at my location has these rolls. I also use cages.
I don’t follow you here. I’ve used the Florida Weave for going on 13 years with indeterminate tomatoes. Never had a problem. I prefer to support the tomato plant additionally by pushing a small 2’ stake into the soil when I first plant it. Then tie the tomato plant to the stake for about a foot. Keeps the plant from sagging down. Then I just continue up with the Florida Weave as the vine grows.
The method is to put a roll of twine on a spindle with a handle. Walk down the row of tomatoes and pass a loop over the top of the stake and down around the tomato plant, then repeat for the next stake. This can be done quickly and easily when the plants are under 5 feet tall i.e. determinate. You can find videos purporting to be Florida weave showing how to support indeterminate plants. Indeterminate plants can’t be done effectively when hundreds of acres of plants are being grown. In other words, Florida weave was set up originally as a method to support hundreds of acres of tomato plants. It is too inefficient when dealing with indeterminate tomatoes.
I’m not arguing whether or not you are using Florida weave. It can certainly be done. What can’t be done is to walk and weave the way they do with determinate plants.
I use T-Posts and Electric Fence wire as support lines with electric fence insulators to hold the fencing wire. Then I use sisal to tie the individual plants to the support lines. I can put multiple support lines/fencing wire to help carry the load. When I plant out, I stagger the tomatoes down each side of the line which allows me to plant just a bit closer. It goes up fast, comes down fast and I can reuse the wire the following year. I may try doing a top and bottom wire this year and then tie sisal lines vertically to act as a florida weave type system.
S0mebody needs to invent a robotic stake that ties itself to the tomato vine as it grows!
The reason why I went to the Florida Weave years ago was because I was always running out of stakes. If I’m using just stakes and have 24 tomato plants that’s 24 stakes. If I’m using cages, I’m probably using 2 stakes for each plant (1 on each side of cage) and that’s 48 stakes for 24 plants. For the Florida Weave, for a one continuous row, with 2 plants between stakes, the number of stakes used will always be 1/2 of the number plants plus 1. So, for a continuous row for 24 plants I’m using only 13 stakes (24/2 +1). Of course, my rows are never continuous in my little garden space, but I am still saving on the number of stakes used. T-Posts stakes are not cheap.
I never drive the stakes into the ground with a sledgehammer or anything else. Rather I’m use a post hole digger to dig a hole a foot or so. That’s easy enough in loose soil. Cousin uses a tractor with a front-end loader to push the stakes into the soil.
@Fusion_power appears to have 8 plants between stakes. Don’t know how well that supports the plants but that’s really saving on the number of stakes used!
I’ll edit this post to add a thought about the method of having a string from the bottom of the tomato plant to an over the plant line or pipe. Although I have never used this method, I believe this requires the use of a determinate or an indeterminate plant pruned to a single stem. My understanding is the plant is trained to wind around the string as it is tied for support. The concern that I would have for an indeterminate vine after pruning to 1 stem would be having proper foliage to prevent sun scald on the tomatoes.
Vertical string support systems are commonly used in greenhouses and have the weaknesses you mention requiring trim to a single stem and under some conditions sunscald can be a problem. Greenhouses use shade fabric to reduce sunscald.
I have 6 plants between stakes today. In the past I put 8 but found that it was too many plants and not enough support. I put 4 pepper plants plus 3 tomato plants between a pair of stakes. Peppers don’t require as much space or as much support as tomatoes. My stakes are 16 feet on centers.
Nice setup with the t-post. I used a similar setup for my pole type green beans this year. I used a lower and upper electric fence wire and jute wrap for the beans to climb. Taller t-post for the beans would be better but as of now I’m pleased. Other than the jute everything can be used for several years.
How far apart are your rows? Thanks
This year I put the posts 4 1/2’ apart. Staggering the plantings to each side of the center line narrows the isles a bit. I have two 5’ sticks with 6" increments marked on them that I use to lay out my gardens each year. I mark my spot, drive the end posts and stretch a mason’s line as a guide for planting.